I haven’t been writing for a while because I was simply wrestling with my own thoughts about word power. I was trying to decide to myself if words are truly harmless. You see, when I was in first grade, my teacher used to tell us that “Sticks and stones can break our bones but words could never hurt us.” The community I was part of, be it family , classmates, or friends, all seemed to believe that words have no capacity to ruin a person’s self esteem. We were taught from a young age to just ignore the bully in class who was showering his/her classmates with insults. Serious actions were taken against such bullies only if they hurt us physically.
Within such contexts, we learn not to speak up about the impact of words and I’m sure I am not alone in believing so. To test my theory further, the other day, I posted a status on Facebook that read ” Words Have More Power than We Think.” To my surprise, many people liked that status because I guess, it put into words the one fact we fear to admit. Many of us probably fear to say that we were hurt by the words of others.
As an adult I even learned to not even admit to myself if someone has hurt me with an insult because admitting is associated with weakness. People would say hurtful comments to us and we would brush them off as comments said in anger, or comments that should be ignored. At this point in my life, I wonder is it really ok for us to disregard the impact of hurtful words on our well-being? Isn’t our need to stay strong and collected in fact the only force allowing us to engage in conversations with people who are toxic with their words?
The minute we decide to speak up about a comment we didn’t like, we are told we are making a big deal about words. I am sure that many people are accused of being sensitive when they respond by saying they didn’t like what someone said to them, or a tone they were spoken to with. It is part of our social fabric and a code of conduct that puts little if not, no impact, on the importance of words and what they do .
Many people struggle with low self esteem because they were told by their parents that they were fat. Many others don’t get over the bullying they had seen in high school, a kid told by their math teacher that they are stupid may hate numbers for the rest of their lives, and a person told by others that he is a failure, will probably stop taking risks. Whether we like it or note, words can affect lives. A positive comment can lead to yards of inspiration while an insult can hold one back for years. I learned this the hard way.
So, as I go into the new year, and after realizing how some words said by some people have affected my life, I decided to be very mindful with my words in 2017. I have decided to keep anything negative to myself and to say anything positive out laud. After all, words have the power to inspire or expire the human soul.
Happy New Year